Sea turtles, some dead, some barely alive, wash ashore

Ben Thyng

Ben Thyng

A lot of them were juvenile Kemp's ridley, the most endangered, and smallest, species of tropical sea turtles, with some green and loggerhead turtles as well.

A MA wildlife sanctuary director tells the Cape Cod Times that at least 219 turtles washed ashore Wednesday through Friday on Cape Cod beaches.

More than 200 frozen turtles - many of them dead - have been washed ashore in New England, victims of a sudden cold snap, according to staff at a nearby wildlife sanctuary.

Of the 82 turtles found on Thanksgiving, only one survived.

Out of more than 400 cold-stunned turtles that have been brought into the sanctuary this year, only 87 have been alive, Kerr told the local newspaper.

Turtles can become trapped in the hook-shaped cape that's hard for them to negotiate.

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Temperatures in the areas near Cape Cod Bay dropped from lows in the high 30s on Wednesday to lows around 19 degrees on Thursday, while a gale warning was in effect on the coast of MA, forecasts showed.

Prescott believes a warming trend in the Gulf of ME has allowed the turtles to delay migration south.

Approximately 190 turtles died as a "once in a lifetime weather system" of powerful winds, freezing temperatures and a high tide worked to incapacitate the sea creatures in the past few days, the Massachusetts Audubon Society told NBC News.

Wildlife workers and volunteers began rescuing cold-stunned turtles beginning last month. But this week has been the deadliest so far.

Stranding season - when tropical turtles become stranded in the bay's frigid waters and their metabolisms shut down - usually spans from Thanksgiving to Christmas, according to the Cape Cod Times.

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